As “The Capital of Craft,” it’s no surprise that San Diego County has more than 115 craft breweries. Without a doubt, one of the first breweries to put San Diego on the map is Stone Brewing. Their original location in Escondido is a bit of a haul from central San Diego, but is totally worth the drive. It’s located in this strange industrial area and doesn’t look like much from the street, but when you walk in you’ll understand why it’s so popular. They have more than 35 beers on tap, and even have wine for the non-hop heads. You will NOT find bar food on their menu—instead you’ll find things like kimchi, curry and yakisoba. But I go there for the massive indoor-outdoor space with a beautiful rustic ambiance (it’s also a wedding venue) and, of course, the beer. During the summer they have outdoor movies in the garden where you can drink your favorite beer while watching a classic. Stone is definitely known for their IPAs, but my favorites are the pale ale and the cali-belgique. I took a guided-tour of the brewery to check out the behind-the-scenes action, too. The tour ends with a beer tasting of four brews and a souvenir glass. I highly recommend it.
With a limited restaurant selection in Escondido, Bellamy’s is definitely at the top of the list. The upscale bistro has a French-inspired menu from French Master Chef Patrick Ponsaty. I opted for the chef’s “inspiration menu” to get a sampling of everything. The plating presentation was stunning for all four courses that included sea bass, scallops, duck breast and creme brûlée. And since the French love small portions, I didn’t feel too stuffed by the end of dinner. After imbibing craft beer, you’ll be ready to eat!